Food a big draw for Festa Italiana lovers in New Kensington
The first day of Festa Italiana in New Kensington was full of kids clutching their stuffed-animal prizes, moms and daughters dancing to music and parents sharing their pasta — making it clear the festival is all about food and family.
Chris Sluka, 53, has been bringing his family to the festival at Mount St. Peter Parish every year for a decade. This is the 33rd year for the festival.
“I come just to spend time with my family and have some good food,” Sluka said. Sluka and his family, who live in New Kensington, are members of the church. His son, Aaron works the 50/50 raffle during the festival.
“It's fun working the booth and meeting all kinds of people,” said Aaron Sluka, 18. “People come here for the atmosphere.”
His sister Megan, 23, loves seeing everyone she knows at the festival.
“It's like one big family,” she said.
And, of course, everyone comes for the food, which is prepared from scratch for two weeks leading up to the event.
“Our signature dish is the lasagna,” said Mary Calvanese, 75, head of the food committee.
She said the church uses a family recipe that's been passed down through the generations.
“That recipe is pretty old,” she said.
Food booths include pizza, meatballs, fried dough, gelato, chicken and vegetable wraps and Italian desserts.
Calvanese said there was a good turnout on the first day of the festival and she hopes the weather holds out for the weekend. “We've had a steady flow of people,” she said.
A couple of thousand people are expected by the end of Saturday, the last day of the festival.
The event raises funds for the church to help cover the cost of improvement projects. Last year, the church used the money to renovate the parking lot.
Scott Foreman, 54, was at the festival with his sister, Susan Ruediger, 58, and his partner, Michael Salerno, 49. He attends the festival every year.
“It's fabulous,” Foreman said. “It's a nice, clean festival.”
Salerno of Natrona Heights applauded the food's authenticity.
“These Italian ladies know how to cook,” he said.
Foreman said he enjoys the tomato basil pizza and the hot sausages.
“It's all good,” he said.
Reudiger of Sarver was a first-time visitor and the festival made a good impression on her.
“I won $10” at bingo, she said.
Darlene Abruzerz, 64, was working the fried dough booth — one of the most popular and cheapest spots to grab a bite to eat.
“It's the best thing for one ticket,” she said.
For Rich Schachte, 54, of New Kensington, this church festival stands out.
“You don't have to be Italian to enjoy it,” he said. “But you do enjoy it because it's Italian.”
New Kensington resident Angie Kelley, 35, has come to the festival her whole life. Now she's passing the tradition on to her two children, Mallory, 5, and Isaac, 10.
“We love it,” she said. “They have great games for the kids.”
Food committee member Ron Frederick, 78, is glad to see the younger generation take an interest in the festival and pass on the tradition.
“That's what we need. We need to keep our heritage going,” he said.
Emily Balser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police identify Harmar man as victim in Washington Township crash
- Union to work while ATI talks continue
- Oklahoma Borough drilling, supply owner to stand trial for stealing natural gas
- Bridge dedicated to mark completion of Butler-Freeport Community Trail
- Ex-church youth leader to face trial for forcing teen girl to have sex
- 1 dead in Washington Township crash
- ATI contract expires today; union reports no progress in negotiations
- Vandergrift man accused of sexual assault
- Lower Burrell man charged with raping girl
- Drivers avoid Hulton Bridge closure, use detours